Sinningia 'Distant Lights' (leopoldii x "Black Hill")

  1. History
  2. Tuber
  3. Genetics
  4. Hybridization
  5. Feature table
  6. Source of the name


I used to have a small plant of S. leopoldii.  The second year it bloomed (2001), I put pollen of Sinningia sp. "Black Hill" on it, and got the hybrid I named Sinningia 'Distant Lights', after a favorite piano piece.  The leopoldii parent died soon thereafter, but the hybrid plants have flourished.

In general appearance, the hybrid plants resemble "Black Hill", but have two horticultural advantages over it:

  1. The hybrid plant is more compact, rarely exceeding 12 inches [30 cm] in height, and does not drop its lower leaves (the lower stem of "Black Hill" is often bare by autumn).
  2. The hybrid has 2-4 flowers per axil, while "Black Hill" usually has just one (sometimes two).

Holey Tuber!

One year this plant had a rotten area on the tuber.  I cleaned out the mush, leaving this cavern behind.  It does not seem to inconvenience the plant.


S. 'Distant Lights' has indeterminate growth habit, from its "Black Hill" parent; S. leopoldii is determinate.  I have crossed 'Distant Lights' with S. douglasii (also determinate), and got plants with indeterminate habit, despite the fact that 3/4 of the ancestry is determinate.  This is consistent with the result from a completely different three-species mix.


As mentioned in the discussion of habit inheritance, I have crossed this plant with S. douglasii.  The hybrid plants have tubular flowers with some spotting, but are disappointing in both vigor and floriferousness.


Feature table for Sinningia 'Distant Lights'

Plant Description

Growth Indeterminate
Habit Upright stem
Leaves Dark green.
Dormancy Normal tuber.


Inflorescence axillary cymes, no peduncles
Season Summer
Flower Magenta, tubular.


Hybridizer Alan LaVergne
Fertility The hybrid is fertile, since I have done crosses with it.

Source of the Name

My hybrid names, few as they are, are allusions to ragtime piano music.  This one is more than an allusion -- it is the title of a piece written by Trebor J. Tichenor of Missouri.  Here is what he wrote about it:

"Distant Lights" is dedicated to the memory of my late wife, Jeanette. It was inspired by fond recollections of many evenings we gazed at the lights across the river, sharing flights of fantasy, hopes and plans for the future. The distant lights spread out across the Mississippi into Illinois seemed a nocturnal field of dreams. Those far away flickers inspired wonder at the many lives each one represented, and the stories they might tell.

Mr. Tichenor died February 22, 2014, in his home state of Missouri.

Best in Show

After only 30 years of exhibiting plants, I won my first (and as of 2019, only) Best in Show in 2008, at the autumn show of the San Francisco Gesneriad Society.  The winning plant was a Sinningia 'Distant Lights', which I overlooked when picking up my plants after the show, because it never occurred to me to look at the "bests" platform.  I didn't get a picture of it at its best and then gave away the plant, which is why there is no picture of it here.